On a cold winter morning, a hot shower is sometimes the only thing that can help get you awake and ready to tackle the day. It's easy to take this modern convenience for granted--but a hot shower wasn't always as easy as the turn of a handle. You have your water heater to thank for your hot showers, clean dishes, and steaming cups of morning coffee.
Without your water heater, the lengths you'd have to go to in order to get hot water would be significant. The other methods that came before today's hot water solutions were not nearly as effective or convenient.
Fire and Hot Springs
Before internal plumbing and appliances were able to heat water, the only way to get hot water was through natural means. If you lived near a natural hot spring, hot water was only a short walk away. For all of the other people, hot water was available only through heating it with fire.
This made hot showers largely impossible. Even with a high-efficiency shower, the typical rate of water use is 2-4 gallons per minute. You simply couldn't warm enough water to take a bath or shower. You might be able to warm a gallon or two to dump over your head, but that's about it.
Wood Burning Stove/Water Heater Combo
At some point, our ancestors started to cook their food. Then, a particularly ingenious person realized that a lot of heat was wasted while cooking. It would be ideal to use that extra heat for some other useful purpose--such as heating water.
Enter the wood-burning stove/water heater combo. This is basically a coil for water that runs behind a wood-burning stove. Water enters the coils and is heated during cooking. Unfortunately, people who wanted hot water would have to fire up the stove. This is good if you want a hot shower after your pancakes, but not in any other situation.
Early Water Heaters
Eventually, the modern design of a tank containing a heating elements was reached. However, even then, hot water wasn't available on demand. That's because the source of heat had to come from something burning--wood or kerosene--which wasn't safe to leave burning at all times.
That means early morning hot water wasn't ready on demand. Also, the exchange of heat wasn't efficient, making the heating process lengthy. Your annoying spouse/child/sibling who uses too much hot water would be a significant problem when these heaters were the standard.
The modern hot water heater is the unsung hero of your house. If you ever doubt the impact that this modern convenience has on your life, try unplugging yours for a day. You'll quickly realize just how much we've come to rely on them--and just how bad our ancestors had it!
For more information about water heaters, contact professional HVAC contractors, such as Wright Total Indoor Comfort.